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Top Five Tips For Locums

If you are a newly qualified pharmacist and are thinking about doing locum work, here are our top five tips for you.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)check

You may be required to have had a DBS check before commencing work. You will not be able to request your own DBS check, an employer can ask for one or you will need to find an organisation that will arrange for an enhanced DBS check. These organisations are known as DBS umbrella organisations. Many locum agencies have already set themselves up as umbrella organisations in order to provide this service. There is a charge for this, however, if you are self-employed you can claim this back on your expenses when you fill in your tax returns form.

Smartcard registration

Smartcards allow access to patient information in a secure manner. Without a smartcard pharmacists will not be able to access and use the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS). To obtain a smartcard you will need to contact your Registration Authority as they are responsible for providing smartcards. If you do not know who your local Registration Authority is, in the first instance, you should contact your local NHS team.

Professional indemnity insurance (PI)

It is a GPhC requirement that all pharmacists are covered by the appropriate professional indemnity cover. This insurance cover is designed to protect against claims made by a patient if mistakes are made or a locum is found to be negligent in some or all of the services they provide. If you are a member of a trade union/association check your membership benefits as in some instances full membership may provide you with standard insurance cover and related legal costs.

Tax returns

If you are self-employed, you will need to fill in a self assessment tax return every year. You will be responsible for keeping accurate records so that you can fill in your tax return correctly. You can use an accountant to do this on your behalf if you wish. The HMRC have a self-employed helpline and you can call them on 0300 200 3504 for basic information about self-assessment, national insurance payments and record keeping.

Employment rights

Many of the basic rights that apply to employees in the UK do not apply to the self-employed. However self-employed people are entitled to certain basic employment rights, examples include the right to take maternity leave (but not necessarily paid maternity leave) and the right not to be discriminated against. The Pharmacist Defence Association have produced a booklet about Locum rights and responsibilities.


For further information on all aspects of working as a locum, including pensions, contracts for services and unpaid fees, see our Locum fact sheet.

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